An ecotourist’s paradise in Curacao — Photo credit Getty Images
When it comes to ecotourism, the Caribbean is full of iconic destinations, ranging from the lush rainforest of El Yunque in Puerto Rico to the green hills of Dominica. However, the small island tends to fly under the radar of seasoned outdoor adventurers. Located off the coast of Venezuela, the island of Curacao is home to pristine beaches, picturesque national parks, and indigenous flora and fauna.
While some of the best ecotourism destinations in the Caribbean are praised for their lush jungles and humid climate, rain is rare in Curacao, even during the three-month rainy season. Yet despite the dry climate, the island teems with native wildlife.
Curaçao has no shortage of places to explore, but perhaps the crown jewel is in its northern part: Christoffel National Park. Although only 4 square miles in size, it is the largest park on the island and one of Curacao’s top destinations for hiking and wildlife viewing.
Park with a view
View from the top of Christoffelberg in Christoffel National Park — Photo by Getty Images
For ambitious adventurers, the national park’s Christoffel Mountain Trail offers magnificent views of the island. The hike takes about three hours and ends at the top of the 1,220-foot Kristofelberg, the highest mountain on the island. Due to the extreme heat in Curacao, hikers should start this trail before 10am. Those looking to explore in the afternoon should check out the Boca Grandi Plantation trail, which offers views of the park’s salt flats, mahogany trees, and Curacao’s historic Savonet Villa.
Whichever trail you choose, be sure to check out native wildlife, from colorful hummingbirds to the elusive white-tailed deer, Curacao’s largest native animal.
Just north of the reserve, Šete Boka National Park is a must-visit after a day of exploring the trails. Established in 1994 to protect an endangered sea turtle nesting area, this coastal reserve is known for its jagged coral formations that line the shore, each serving as a dramatic backdrop as the waves crash against the rocks.
Visitors will find many fossilized animals as they walk through the park’s underground cave. If you visit between May and December, you’re likely to spot sea turtles returning to the reserve’s shoreline to lay their eggs.
Where to see sea turtles
Endangered sea turtles love to swim near Playa Piskado — Photo credit Getty Images
Playa Piskado, also known as Playa Grandi, is another great place to spot endangered sea turtles. This bustling seaside attraction has been a favorite haunt of the local fishing community for decades, with traders losing their catch and dumping their offal into the water. This long-standing practice has taught the sea turtles that there is always a feast at Playa Piskado. Divers can see turtles feasting on a wide variety of native reef fish.
North of Playa Piskado, the tranquil Playa Kalki is home to soft sand, steep cliffs and an abundance of native birds. Cas Abao and Kleine Knip offer more heavenly beaches. If you get hungry, be sure to stop by Playa Lagun for a quick swim, then head to the Bahia Beach Bar, which offers delicious alfresco dining with hearty local cuisine and cold beer. .
Location, location, location
The Mangrove Beach Corendon Curacao — Photo attributed to Mangrove Beach Corendon Curacao All-Inclusive Resort, Curio by Hilton
While there are plenty of hotels around the island, the Mangrove Beach Corendon Curacao is particularly suitable for those looking to explore the island’s ecotourism highlights. This spacious all-inclusive resort is steps away from the Curacao Rif Mangrove Park, a small forest reserve home to elevated boardwalks, towering lookouts and a host of native species, from shorebirds to crabs. hermit crossing upside down jellyfish. The resort’s concierge can arrange guided tours and excursions to more remote parts of the island.
Curacao may not offer the lush tropical terrain of most other Caribbean islands, but its barren cactus-filled landscapes make Curacao even more unique and an ideal destination for ecotourism enthusiasts.
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